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How to run TensorFlow on NVIDIA GPU (Ubuntu 20.04 - May/2022)

How to run TensorFlow on NVIDIA GPU (Ubuntu 20.04 - May/2022)

Patrick Metzner Morais's photo
Patrick Metzner Morais
·May 20, 2022·

3 min read


The use of GPUs is incredibly helpful for many activities related to Machine Learning and Data Science, but correctly setting up your environment to leverage the processing power of these devices can often be a little confusing and time consuming, specially for people new to the field.

The goal of this post is to summarize all necessary steps to run TensorFlow on an NVIDIA GPU from a fresh Ubuntu 20.04 installation in May/2022.

This guide will cover the setup of:

  1. NVIDIA drivers
  2. CUDA Toolkit
  3. CUDNN
  4. NVIDIA Container Toolkit (optional)

The computer (notebook) used to develop this guide was equipped with an Intel® Core™ i7 CPU and an NVIDIA GeForce MX250 GPU. The following steps may vary slightly depending on your equipment.

1 - NVIDIA drivers installation

To install the latest NVIDIA drivers you will need to:

  1. Uninstall old drivers
  2. Retrieve new lists of packages
  3. Remove unused packages
  4. Search for latest driver version
  5. Install latest drivers (510 in the example bellow)
  6. Reboot

These steps can be done with the following commands:

sudo apt-get purge nvidia-*

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get autoremove

apt search nvidia-driver

sudo apt install libnvidia-common-510

sudo apt install libnvidia-gl-510

sudo apt install nvidia-driver-510

sudo reboot

2 - CUDA Toolkit installation

  1. Check the pre-installation steps from the official documentation to make sure you have all necessary prerequisites.

  2. Install Linux headers

     sudo apt-get install linux-headers-$(uname -r)
  3. Install CUDA Toolkit following the official documentation or running the commands bellow:

     sudo mv /etc/apt/preferences.d/cuda-repository-pin-600
     sudo dpkg -i cuda-repo-ubuntu2004-11-7-local_11.7.0-515.43.04-1_amd64.deb
     sudo cp /var/cuda-repo-ubuntu2004-11-7-local/cuda-*-keyring.gpg /usr/share/keyrings/
     sudo apt-get update
     sudo apt-get -y install cuda
  4. Reboot to fix mismatched versions of drivers and libraries if you get the following error when running nvidia-smi

     Failed to initialize NVML: Driver/library version mismatch

4 - CUDNN installation

  1. Download cnDNN

  2. Install CUDNN following the official documentation or running the commands bellow for version

     sudo dpkg -i cudnn-local-repo-ubuntu2004- 
     sudo apt-key add /var/cudnn-local-repo-ubuntu2004-
     sudo apt-get update
     sudo apt-get install libcudnn8
     sudo apt-get install libcudnn8-dev

5 - NVIDIA Container Toolkit installation

The steps 1-4 are enough to run TensorFlow locally on NVIDIA GPUs, but there are a few extra necessary steps in case you want to use the GPU in a Docker container with NVIDIA Container Toolkit.

  1. Uninstall previous versions of Docker Engine

     sudo apt-get purge docker-ce docker-ce-cli docker-compose-plugin
     sudo rm -rf /var/lib/docker
     sudo rm -rf /var/lib/containerd
  2. Install NVIDIA Container Toolkit following the official documentation or running the commands bellow:

     curl | sh \
       && sudo systemctl --now enable docker
     distribution=$(. /etc/os-release;echo $ID$VERSION_ID) \
       && curl -fsSL | sudo gpg --dearmor -o /usr/share/keyrings/nvidia-container-toolkit-keyring.gpg \
       && curl -s -L$distribution/libnvidia-container.list | \
             sed 's#deb https://#deb [signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/nvidia-container-toolkit-keyring.gpg] https://#g' | \
             sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/nvidia-container-toolkit.list
     sudo apt-get update
     sudo apt-get install -y nvidia-docker2
     sudo systemctl restart docker
  3. Test the installation with:

     sudo docker run --rm --gpus all tensorflow/tensorflow:latest-gpu nvidia-smi

    The result should look similar to this: image.png

6 - Bonus: Enabling GPU access with Docker Compose

According to the official Docker documentation, in order to enable GPU access with Docker Compose, the following deploy information should be included to your docker-compose.yml file.

    image: # your image
            - driver: nvidia
              count: 1
              capabilities: ["gpu"]

Photo by Jordan Harrison

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